In recent years, the role of zoos and aquaria as centers for conservation, education, and entertainment has been placed under scrutiny. From the controversy surrounding the confinement of orcas at SeaWorld to the killing of Harambe the gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo, questions have been asked about the place, if any, of zoos and aquaria in a world where so many animals need resources and protection in the wild and many other means of learning about the natural world exist.
For more than a decade, Canadian photojournalist Jo-Anne McArthur has turned her forensic and sympathetic camera on those animals whom we’ve placed in zoos and we animals who look at them. As with her first book, We Animals (Lantern, 2013), McArthur’s aim is to invite us to reflect on how we observe or ignore one another through the bars, across the moat, or on either side of the glass. Captive is a book that will challenge our preconceptions about zoos and aquaria, animal welfare, and just what or who it is we think we see when we face the animal.
“[U]nusual and at times arresting.”—The Washington Post
“Jo-Anne McArthur’s photographs of haunted and traumatized animals imprisoned for the term of their natural lives for no better reason than that they have a curiosity value for us are infinitely depressing. Taken together, they constitute an indictment of the so-called zoological garden to which there is no conceivable reply.”—J.M. Coetzee, author, The Lives of Animals
“To experience Jo-Anne McArthur’s photography is to absorb the revolutionary idea that the loneliness of a captive animal is our own loneliness—that their confiscation from the natural way of being is our own confiscation from the same. And that perhaps the solution to their existential plight might be the beginning of a solution to our own. Breathtaking, mournful, vital.”—Andrew Westoll, author, The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary
“McArthur sums it all up. We can no longer keep animals like this. Haunting and sad, yet beautifully composed. A must-have book for all who care about animals.”—Britta Jaschinski, photographer
“In her stunning images, Jo-Anne McArthur conveys more than words ever can the injustice of confinement, and the arcane idea that we are lords and they are things.”—Jonathan Balcombe, author, What a Fish Knows
“Captive may have a positive influence on the reader and serve to steer them away from captive animal shows—including dolphins and other whales—and that’s what I like most about the book.”—Ric O’Barry, The Cove, the Dolphin Project
“Captive is a searing reflection of the despair felt by captive wild animals. I hope everyone views the photographs in this great work and dares to recognize themselves in these individuals. We owe it to them.”—Lori Marino, neuroscientist
“As a field ethologist, I’ve been privileged to see animals of all kinds expressing their complex, playful, serious, and fully social selves with their families, friends, and foes in natural settings. McArthur’s beautiful, striking, and utterly shocking photographs show zooed animals in settings where they’re alone, clearly unhappy and depressed, and unable to express their natural behaviors. I deeply hope that what McArthur reveals here will help to close down these prisons and end our objectification of these magnificent sentient beings.”—Marc Bekoff, coauthor, The Animals’ Agenda: Freedom, Compassion, and Coexistence in the Human Age
“The wonder of the work is that it induces that same deep existential hollowness that zoos themselves do, the disquieting sense that, as Rilke, one of the great zoo-visiting poets, put it: ‘the shrewd animals notice that we are not very much at home in the world we’ve expounded.’”—Charles Siebert, author, journalist, poet